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January 31, 2023
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Art of Romanian Traditional Blouse with Embroidery on Shoulder on Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

The art of the traditional blouse with embroidery on the shoulder (called altiță) is an essential part of Romanian and Moldovan folk dress for men and women. This is why this art was included by UNESCO on the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, as announced on Thursday, December 1, by UNESCO.

The achievement coincides with the National Day of Romania, which offers a special feeling to all involved in approving the file.

Romanian delegation to UNESCO
Romanian cultural delegation to UNESCO

The art juxtaposes a simple cut with rich and colourful ornamentations that are stitched using complex sewing techniques. The blouses are white and made of natural fibres (flax, cotton, hemp or floss silk), and the complex stitch combines horizontal, vertical and diagonal seams that result in a specific pattern and texture. The styles and techniques vary according to the region, the wearer’s age, and the skills of the women who create the blouses. The motifs and ornamentation are also varied: from geometric and stylized registers to organic shapes and from sombre to vivid colours.

Traditional blouses with shoulder embroidery are made entirely by hand, and recent attempts to mechanize specific steps and simplify the ornamentation and techniques constitute deviations from tradition. The craftsmanship is exclusively female and generally passed on within families, although some organizations, museums and schools organize camps and courses.

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